February 25, 2015

cymbals pds

Princeton Day School’s Upper School arts magazine, CYMBALS, was named first place in top-scoring school magazines for 2014 by the American Scholastic Association. PDS Upper School students also received numerous 2015 Scholastic Writing Awards (Gold, Silver, and Honorable Mentions).

At a public meeting held by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Monday night, several residents of the Princeton Ridge and experts hired by the citizens’ group Princeton Ridge Coalition aired concerns about methods the Williams Transco company plans to use in construction of a natural gas pipeline through the area.

In a packed meeting room at the Nassau Inn, DEP representatives listened as members of the public expressed their worries about effects of the project. Williams Transco wants to add a 42-inch-diameter pipeline to an existing line as part of a 30-mile installation through Mercer, Somerset, and Hunterdon counties and counties in Pennsylvania. The Princeton section, part of the 6.36-mile Skillman Loop, is an environmentally sensitive area of boulders, bedrock, and wetlands.

Williams Transco won federal approval for the project last December, but the company still needs freshwater wetland and flood hazard area permits from the state. While the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruled that the pipeline would pose “no significant impact” on the surrounding community, many people think otherwise.

“We have been deeply concerned about the safety risk to our residents and the environmental damage to our pristine woods, streams, and wetlands posed by this expansion project,” Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert said in a statement to the DEP. “Й The impacts identified by Williams Transco in their permit application provide ample evidence that the proposed activity is inconsistent with the objectives of New Jersey’s water quality standards for anti-degradation waters, which are designed to protect the existing quality of New Jersey’s surface waters.”

Rick Reilly, from the DEP, said the public has until Tuesday, March 10 to submit comments in writing. In a brief presentation before the public comment, Williams Transco representative John Todd said that the proposed pipeline would transport gas to produce enough energy to heat about two million homes.

Princeton University astrophysics professor Rob Goldston, a member of the Coalition, said that Williams Transco’s plan to use heavy equipment and do open trenching across the boulders and bedrock of the Ridge is not safe. Instead, he recommended horizontal directional drilling (HDD) under the Ridge, which is safer and would not involve cutting down any trees. “Williams says they can’t do HDD,” he said, “but we disagree. We want the DEP to do an investigation. This is a viable alternative.”

Coalition member Adam Irgom said that no part of Williams Transco’s project is more environmentally sensitive than the Princeton Ridge. “By law, they cannot trench through the wetlands, because there are practical alternatives,” he said. Mr. Irgom added that Williams Transco would rather pay a fine and settle any lawsuits that could be a result of accidents along the pipeline than pay for horizontal drilling. “It’s cheaper and faster to pay fines than drill under the Ridge,” he said. “A $1 million fine on a $165 million project would be a drop in the bucket for them.”

Resident Patricia Shanley, an ecologist who has worked in the Brazilian Amazon, said that the forest on the Ridge is unique. “There is an intelligence in the landscape, and that’s why so many people are here,” she said, also noting the diversity of species. “We need to be extra careful because water is the foundation of life.”

Coalition member Barbara Blumenthal told the DEP that Williams Transco has indicated that if the DEP doesn’t act quickly to approve the project, the company will change its plan to take the existing pipeline out of service during the most intrusive methods of construction, a period of three to six weeks. The plan was to remove the gas and replace it with water during that period.

But the company has indicated it will go back to FERC and ask to leave the gas intact, relocating residents during the construction instead of replacing the gas with water and having residents remain in their homes. “Our response is that we’re not responsible for the timing of the DEP permits,” Ms. Blumenthal said, citing delays in the approval process caused by the company itself.

The Coalition last week sent a letter to DEP Commissioner Bob Martin making the agency aware that Williams Transco “has presented easement holders on the Princeton Ridge with a side agreement.

“The rock handling and construction plans approved by FERC were the result of lengthy negotiations with citizens of New Jersey seeking to minimize environmental damage and ensure public safety, both required under NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act),” the letter reads. “Transco now suggests that these critical concessions will be abrogated if NJDEP does not somehow accelerate the process for issuing permits. The implication to us is that to preserve the concessions Transco has already made, we should not exercise our rights as citizens by testifying before you in the NJDEP permitting process about the numerous shortcomings of the current applications.”

The letter concludes with a request that any approvals of federal permits the DEP makes for Williams Transco should honor commitments the company made last June and October. “Unfortunately, this request is made necessary by the threat to protected environmental assets and public safety that inheres in Transco’s requested easement side agreements, and by the clear implication that Transco may attempt in the future to use another excuse to renege on these commitments to the environment and public safety,” the letter reads.

AvalonBay, the developer of 280 units planned for the former Princeton Hospital site, announced last week that it has voluntarily upgraded its fire protection systems for the Princeton complex as well as another planned for Maplewood. The announcement came in the wake of a devastating fire at AvalonBay’s Edgewater rental community in Bergen County last month, which destroyed the complex and left some 500 people homeless.

While the construction of Edgewater was up to code, officials have blamed the lightweight wood construction and lack of masonry fire walls for the quick spread of the blaze after it was started by maintenance workers using a blowtorch to do plumbing work in a wall. At the two new developments, AvalonBay will incorporate more sprinklers throughout the building, including the attics, closet spaces, and between the ceilings and floors. The company has also said it will install masonry firewalls, which are currently not required by the National Fire Protection Association Standard.

The move was praised by Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, who hopes it will lead to a revision of the state’s construction code. “I was happy to see that they’re going above and beyond the code in two important areas,” she said on Monday. “I still hope that the code will be changed. I think it’s important to recognize that the provisions that AvalonBay has said they’re going to incorporate into their design are voluntary. It would be better for everybody if those things are required as part of all developments in New Jersey.”

Ms. Lempert and Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes were among those calling for a review by the state’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) of New Jersey’s Uniform Construction Code last month prior to evaluation of AvalonBay’s plan for the apartment complex on Witherspoon Street. In a press release from AvalonBay announcing the fire safety changes, DCA Commissioner Richard Constable praised the company for its action.

“AvalonBay’s decision to voluntarily hold themselves to a higher standard when building these communities is a very positive development for the Princeton and Maplewood communities,” he said.

Last month, Assemblyman Scott Rumana introduced a bill that would impose a moratorium on light-frame construction for multi-family housing in New Jersey. The bill has garnered support among several local residents. On Monday, a group of local officials and staff met to put together some recommendations related to the issue. The recommendations were to be considered by Council at it’s meeting Tuesday night, Ms. Lempert said on Monday.

The Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission (DRCC) has effectively reversed the decision it made last month on the Institute for Advanced Study’s plan for faculty housing. The Commission approved the plan Wednesday, February 18, by a vote of 5 to 2.

This vote stands in contrast with that taken by the DRCC last month when only six members voted 3-2 with one abstention. Since four votes are needed for the Commission’s approval, the Institute’s plan was rejected. One commissioner was absent. Commissioner Ed Trzaska explained that as there are seven members of the DRCC, four yes votes are required for a plan to be approved.

After January’s vote, Mr. Afran spoke of “a major victory for the protection of the Princeton battlefield.” He said: “The issue has now been decided.”

But the Institute had said that it would “continue to discuss the project with the Canal Commission.” IAS spokesperson Christine Ferrara pointed out that although the DRCC had not approved the housing project, there were in fact “more votes for it than against it.”

The Princeton Battlefield Area Preservation Society (PBS), which has long opposed the housing project on several grounds, is expected to challenge the DRCC ruling.

PBS had been delighted by the DRCC’s January ruling against the Institute’s proposal to build seven single-family homes and two four-unit townhouses. The DRCC, which oversees and manages the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park and protects the streams that feed into the canal, had heard arguments from PBS that construction would negatively impact wetlands at the site. They had not expected the issue to be revisited by the Commission.

An email from Town Topics asking DRCC Executive Director Marlen Dooley: “What prompted the Commission to revisit the issue after its 3-2 vote against the IAS plans last month? Did it have anything to do with the fact that only six of the seven commissioners were in attendance at that January meeting?” elicited this email response: “There was a Motion for Reconsideration. The Commission voted on the motion and the motion was approved …. The Commission believes it has the authority to hear motions for reconsideration.”

According to PBS attorney Bruce Afran, PBS organizers heard about the motion for reconsideration just two days before last week’s meeting.

The motion was put forward by commissioner Mark Texel, who had abstained when the Commission voted on the Institute’s plans in January.

After Mr. Texel’s motion for reconsideration was approved, the Commission revisited the IAS plans and took another vote. This time, the plans were approved by a vote of 5 to 2.

In response to the DRCC’s vote last week, the Institute provided the following statement: “We are very pleased that the Delaware and Raritan Canal Commission decided to reconsider its vote last month and today voted 5-2 in favor of the Institute’s fully compliant Faculty Housing plans. With the DRCC’s approval, we may now move to complete the other procedural steps necessary to officially begin the project.”

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The Oscar for Snow Scenes goes to Town Topics photographer Emily Reeves for the film, “Campus in Winter,” made on a low budget with student actors and statues courtesy of Princeton University.

February 24, 2015

After additional review of laboratory tests, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Jersey Department of Health have confirmed the suspected case of measles at Princeton University. The student has recovered and is no longer infectious. Last week, Princeton’s health department required that any faculty or staff member who may have been exposed remain off campus until they submit proof of vaccination or immunity for measles. The move resulted in temporarily reduced staffing levels in some departments and offices on campus, officials said. More than 99.5 percent of the graduate and undergraduate students have been vaccinated. Princeton University staff members have contacted undergraduate and graduate students who have not been fully immunized. It is the state’s second confirmed measles case after a 1-year-old in Jersey City contracted the disease earlier this month.

February 19, 2015

AvalonBay Communities Inc., the company developing a complex of apartments at the former site of Princeton Hospital on Witherspoon Street, announced Tuesday that it will voluntarily upgrade its fire protection systems in that development and another in Maplewood. The decision comes in the wake of a disastrous fire at an AvalonBay community in Edgewater last month.

 In a statement, the company said, it would enhance the systems “at its high density, wood frame communities that are scheduled to commence construction in the near future…to comply with the National Fire Protection Association Standard 13 — a standard that is greater than what is required by the current building code for this building type.”

 More sprinklers will be incorporated throughout the buildings, including in the attics, closet spaces, and between the ceilings and floors. In addition, the company will install masonry firewalls, which are not required for this building type by current fire codes. New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable said of the move, “AvalonBay’s decision to voluntarily hold themselves to a higher standard when building these communities is a very positive development for the Princeton and Maplewood communities.”

 Following the Edgewater fire last month, Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes were among those who urged AvalonBay to voluntarily upgrade fire protection in the Princeton development. They also called for a review of New Jersey’s Uniform Construction Code prior to the formal evaluation by the DCA of the construction plan.

  The Edgewater fire destroyed 240 units and has led to lawsuits arguing that AvalonBy was negligent. The fire began accidentally inside a wall when maintenance workers were using a blowtorch to do plumbing repairs in an apartment. According to officials, the building’s lightweight, wooden construction allowed the fire to spread, and 911 was not called as the workers tried to put out the blaze.

 “We remain highly enthusiastic about our long-term prospects in the Garden State,” said Ronald S. Ladell, AvalonBay Senior Vice President. “By continuing to work with local governmental and community leaders throughout New Jersey, we will continue to build distinctive, welcoming and safe communities.”

 

An undergraduate student at Princeton University is suspected of having measles, it was reported Tuesday. Preliminary reports were received yesterday, and additional tests are being conducted, according to the Princeton Health Department. The student has recovered and is no longer contagious. Results are expected in the next few days.

According to Princeton Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser, the town’s health department is working closely with the New Jersey Department of Health and the University to locate people potentially exposed between Wednesday, February 4 and Sunday, February 8. No locations off campus have been identified as being visited by the student currently suspected to have measles.

On campus, locations include: 1938 Hall, Baker Hall, Blair Hall, Frick Chemistry building, Friend Center, Holder Hall, McCosh Health Center, Spelman Hall, Wallace Hall, Whitman College dining hall, and evening and weekend hours in Frist Campus Center, Dillon Gymnasium and New South. Anyone who was in those spaces between February 4-8 should check their vaccination records and contact their family physician if they have any concerns.

Measles is caused by a virus and is very easily spread from person to person. Measles starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes and sore throat. It’s followed by a rash that spreads over the body. When an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes, the virus is released into the air and enters another person’s body through the nose, mouth or throat. People can also become sick if they come in contact with the mucus or saliva from an infected person. The measles virus can live on contaminated surfaces and in the air for up to two hours.  Measles may be transmitted from four days before through four days after the onset of a rash.

More than 99.5 percent of all Princeton University students have been vaccinated and the measles vaccine is very effective, but in rare cases even individuals whose vaccines are up-to-date might still get measles.  Undergraduate and graduate students who have symptoms consistent with measles should isolate themselves and call McCosh Health Center at (609) 258-3141 during business hours or (609) 258-3139 after hours.

February 18, 2015
FARM BY THE MEADOW: That’s the title of this acrylic on paper work by HomeFront’s ArtSpace artist Joann A. on view at the Art Jam Pop-Up gallery, 19 Hulfish Street, Palmer Square, from February 20 through March 15. The exhibition, which opens with a public reception this Friday, February 20, from 6 to 9 p.m., will feature work by nationally-renowned and regionally-acclaimed artists, as well as HomeFront’s own client artists. Gallery hours are Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.(Image Courtesy of HomeFront)

FARM BY THE MEADOW: That’s the title of this acrylic on paper work by HomeFront’s ArtSpace artist Joann A. on view at the Art Jam Pop-Up gallery, 19 Hulfish Street, Palmer Square, from February 20 through March 15. The exhibition, which opens with a public reception this Friday, February 20, from 6 to 9 p.m., will feature work by nationally-renowned and regionally-acclaimed artists, as well as HomeFront’s own client artists. Gallery hours are Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. (Image Courtesy of HomeFront)

ArtJam, a fun and funky pop-up art gallery to benefit homeless families, will open this Friday, February 20, with a public reception, from 6 to 9 p.m., at 19 Hulfish Street on Palmer Square. The show, which will continue through March 15, will include sculpture, glass, photography, jewelry, acrylics, watercolor, and oil paintings. Proceeds from the sale of each artwork will be split 50/50 between artist and ArtSpace.

“This is the fifth year we’ve done ArtJam to benefit HomeFront families,” said Ruthann Traylor, director of HomeFront’s therapeutic art program, ArtSpace. “The location changes when a storefront moves location and there is a window of opportunity to move in to help the less fortunate.”

Palmer Square has hosted the event on several occasions. In 2013 Architect Robert Hillier (a Town Topics shareholder) donated space at Princeton Hillier Studio on Witherspoon Street.

“This is a real community event where artists and art lovers come together to help our neighbors in need,” said Ms. Traylor. “What better way to help someone than by attending an art gallery and purchasing a piece of artwork that will benefit an artist as well as a mother or child who is experiencing homelessness.”

Eight of HomeFront’s own client artists will be featured in the exhibition together with some 50 local and national artists. Local artists include Heather Barros, Cynthia Groya, Shirley Kern, Susan MacQueen, Andrew Wilkinson, and John Shedd.

The accomplished New Jersey artist Jon Sarkin, renowned for combining words with elaborate images in his drawings and paintings, will have work on display, as will six artists from the famed Creedmoor Psychiatric Center’s Living Museum in Queens, New York.

Mr. Sarkin’s work has been the focus of articles in The New Yorker and The New York Times, This American Life, GQ, ARTNews, and galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and around the world.

“The mix of artists is as eclectic as the art — with amazing stories that have inspired the art and the artists,” said Ms. Traylor.

One inspiring success story concerns former HomeFront client Emily Lewis, now studying for her Master of Fine Arts degree at the Parsons New School for Design in New York City, where she works in the School’s metal shop to pay her way.

“Attendees to ArtJam in prior years have found the event inspiring, challenging, provocative, and entertaining, but this year, one artist, Emily Lewis, can truly say that ArtJam was ‘life-changing’ for her,” said Ms. Traylor.

Five years ago, Ms. Lewis was a 25-year-old single mother and high school dropout on welfare, with a future that looked pretty grim for her and her baby. She entered HomeFront’s WorkFirst educational program at their Family Preservation Center to obtain her GED and get some data entry training to help her find some sort of job. One day between classes she stopped by the brightly-colored and inviting ArtSpace studio.

Although she had not considered herself “artistic,” she discovered a well of creativity. “Emily was just amazingly creative,” remembered Ms. Traylor. “Everything she did was startling and unique. That year, a group of local artists helped HomeFront put on the first-ever ArtJam and we persuaded Emily to show five of her pieces. It was the last thing she ever thought she would do but she agreed.”

According to Ms. Traylor, that decision changed Emily’s life “beyond her wildest dreams.” She sold three paintings at that show and attracted the attention of a local art patron. The young woman who had previously hoped to be lucky enough to land a minimum wage job now had the confidence to apply for — and receive — a full, four-year scholarship to the prestigious Parsons School, complete with a housing stipend. She obtained her undergraduate degree last year. Her work will be featured in this year’s ArtJam.

HomeFront’s ArtSpace

HomeFront’s ArtSpace program gives the non-profit organization’s clients access to a restorative art studio where they can express any trauma on canvas and nurture their inner selves.

“In the midst of the horror of having no home, ArtSpace allows one to release and heal,” said Ms. Traylor.

ArtJam will run through March 15. For information on sponsorship opportunities or other ways to be a part of ArtJam, contact Ruthann Traylor at (609) 883-7500 or ruthannt@homefrontnj.org.

book mug bao

Karen Bao, a 2012 Princeton High School graduate, will discuss her debut novel, Dove Arising (Viking Juvenile $17.99) in the Community Room at the Princeton Public Library on Friday, February 27 at 7 p.m.

The first in a planned trilogy, the novel, about a young woman who lives in a colony on the moon and embarks on a quest to save her mother and siblings, was written when the author was a 17-year-old high school senior. Its totalitarian society setting was inspired by stories she heard about her grandfather, a professor who was imprisoned in Mao’s reeducation camps in China. The scientific foundations in the book are based on the author’s own research in biology and technology. She is presently a sophomore majoring in biochemistry at an Ivy League university.

Dove Arising tells the story of Phaet Theta who has lived her whole life in a colony on the moon. She’s barely spoken since her father died in an accident nine years ago. She cultivates the plants in Greenhouse 22, lets her best friend talk for her, and stays off the government’s radar. Then her mother is arrested.

According to School
Library Journal, Characters are well developed, especially strong-willed Phaet, and an even pace will keep teens turning pages. Fans of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, and Marie Lu’s Legend should flock to this well-written debut effort by 19-year-old Bao.” 

Karen Bao graduated from JW in 2008 and PHS in 2012.

More information can be found on www.dovearising.com.

Last week, a Morris County tax court judge denied Princeton University’s motion to dismiss a complaint by four local residents seeking to rescind the school’s property tax exemption for the tax year 2014. This is the third time that Judge Vito Bianco has ruled against the University in cases regarding its tax-exempt status.

Soon after the decision was issued on February 12, the University announced it would ask the Appellate Division of New Jersey’s Superior Court to hear an appeal concerning the applicable legal standard while the rest of the case is still pending. Local attorney Bruce Afran, who represented the four Princeton residents in two lawsuits that have been filed, called the request for an appeal at this stage “extraordinary.”

“They have to get permission, and it’s rarely granted,” he said last Friday. “Judge Bianco has never been reversed. It almost smacks of desperation by the University. I was very surprised. We all left court yesterday about 10:30 a.m. By 10 minutes to 3 p.m., the University had posted a press release saying they would appeal. It sounds to me that they are in a desperate position.”

One of the lawsuits challenges the tax-exempt status of some of the University’s properties in the 2011 tax year. The other relates to its tax exemption in the 2014 tax year. It is the denial of the attempt to dismiss the latter case that the University is seeking to appeal.

“Under New Jersey law, nonprofit universities are entitled to property tax exemption unless it is proven that their dominant motive is to make a profit,” said University General Counsel Ramona E. Romero in the press release issued last week. “In this case, the four individuals challenging the town of Princeton’s decision to grant the University a property tax exemption for 2014 have not even attempted to claim that the University’s dominant motive is to make a profit, which of course it’s not.”

Mr. Afran contends that the University’s statement that it can only lose the tax exemption if profit is their dominant motive is not, in fact, the law. “The Supreme Court has rejected it,” he said. “The law in New Jersey is that if you share profits or engage in commercial activity, you risk the loss of the entire exemption. So the statement in the press release is the argument they’re trying to push, but the courts have rejected it repeatedly.”

The 2014 case is slightly different from the earlier one because it challenges the University’s entire tax exemption, not just in two buildings. “This is the first time, as far as I can tell, that a University is faced with the loss of its exemption because of commercial activity,” said Mr. Afran. “It is a significant decision that came out, and that’s why the University is trying to block it.”

Mr. Afran said that the University should be paying taxes on some buildings that are tax exempt but have commercial operations such as selling tickets and food. The University also gets royalties for patents, he said, not unlike other major educational institutions such as Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which earn “billions of dollars in royalties,” he said.

According to the press release, “The University feels strongly that the resources necessary to litigate such a case should not be diverted from our central mission of teaching and research, and that is why we seek clarity from the appellate court at this time.”

post office

Having reviewed a plan last week for a 7-Eleven convenience store and post office to replace the long-empty West Coast Video store on East Nassau Street, Princeton’s site plan review advisory board (SPRAB) has passed the proposal on to the town’s Planning Board. The Board will likely consider the idea sometime in March.

The 7-Eleven, approximately 5,000 square feet, would have frontage on Nassau Street, while the post office, at about 3,500 square feet, would be located to the rear. The branch would replace the post office that has been a longtime fixture on Palmer Square, at a date to be announced. The 1930’s post office building was sold in December 2013 to a California-based company called LCOR Ventures, which has yet to reveal its future use.

“Once the new location is ready, we will ‘postalize’ that location and set a date to move the operations from Palmer Square,” said Ray V. Daiutolo, who is with the United States Post Office’s corporate communications, in an email on Tuesday. “As for Palmer Square, the property is under contract and the buyer is in due diligence. We will not move operations until the sale is final and the new site is ready. Generally these retail operational moves are done over a weekend so there is no break in service.”

The arrival of a 7-Eleven store in their neighborhood was opposed by several residents, who have expressed concerns about late-night noise and disturbances. Last December, Princeton Council unanimously adopted an ordinance that prohibits retail establishments touching residential zones from operating between 2 and 5 a.m., and the 7-Eleven must comply with that ruling.

The West Coast Video site has been vacant for about a decade. During that time, the Rite Aid drug chain leased the building, but never opened a store there. For Robert Bratman, whose family has owned the property since it was a furniture store several years ago, the review by SPRAB is an encouraging step. “It looks like both the 7-Eleven and the post office will be going in there,” he said Tuesday. “It now goes on to the Planning Board. Everything seems to be moving along.”

Mr. Bratman said the post office will be a retail store rather than a sorting facility, with ample parking. The parking lots would be restriped and repaved. “We want to pave the back lot,” he said. “The dicey part is that we don’t want to have paved it and then have the Planning Board say we have to do other things that require us to tear up that paving.”

Among SPRAB’s requests is a sidewalk from Princeton University’s Engineering Quad to the building, which Mr. Bratman said would be incorporated into the site. Bike racks would be installed, and LED lighting would reduce glare for nearby residents, he said. The building would be painted beige and have a small 7-Eleven sign in front. “They have a package they put together for nicer towns like Princeton,” he said.

As for the neighbors who are opposed to the convenience store idea, “I think they’re going to end up shopping there,” Mr. Bratman said. “It has healthier choices than the old 7-Elevens. It’s not the same store we grew up with. Time will tell, I guess.”

A burst water pipe at McCaffrey’s Princeton store caused the facility to close Monday afternoon as customers stocked up in preparation for the snowstorm that was expected later that night.

A crew of some 20 people worked through the night to make sure that the store opened for business as usual on Tuesday morning. Store manager Steve Carney, told Town Topics that owner Jim McCaffrey, who had arrived at around 4:30 p.m. that day, remained at the store overnight until 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. By that time, customers would not have known that there had been such activity overnight, said Mr. Carney.

The overnight crew worked to repair and clean up the store after a pipe burst in the ceiling over the customer service office, causing extensive damage to computers and, to some extent, in the floral section nearby.

No food products were affected, however, said Mr. Carney, who also worked late into the night with other members of McCaffrey’s staff.

Since the incident began with a small leak, the store had some warning and a crew was already on its way when the pipe burst and came apart from the sprinkler system, said Mr. Carney. By morning, all signs of damage to walls and flooring had been addressed. “It was big, but it could have been a lot worse,” said Mr. Carney.

Andrew Jarecki

The Lewis Center for the Arts will welcome Oscar nominated alumnus Andrew Jarecki ’85 back to campus for a screening and discussion of his new HBO documentary series, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, on Friday, February 20, at 6 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street. The event begins with a reception and is free and open to the public.

Jarecki directed and produced the documentary film Capturing the Friedmans (2003), which was nominated for an Academy Award and won 18 major international prizes including the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Festival, and the New York Film Critics Circle Award. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English literature and a certificate in the Program in Theater and Dance. He also directed and produced the narrative feature All Good Things (2010), starring Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, and Frank Langella, and produced the acclaimed documentary Catfish, also released in 2010. He is executive producer of Catfish, the television series, and has co-written and performed music for film and television including Felicity and Silver Linings Playbook. Jarecki also founded Moviefone and served as chief executive until he sold the company to America Online in 1999. He is a member of the advisory board of The Marshall Project and of the Director’s Advisory Council of the Sundance Institute. The Jarecki Family Foundation is devoted to supporting efforts to improve the criminal justice system. He is also a member of the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Advisory Council.

Now premiering on HBO, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is a six-part series that tracks the strange history of Robert Durst, scion of a New York City’s billionaire real estate family, who has been accused of three murders over the past 30 years but never convicted. Durst’s story was also the inspiration for Jarecki’s All Good Things. Brilliant and reclusive, Durst has not spoken publicly – until now. The show, which debuted on HBO on February 8, exposes long-buried information discovered during Jarecki and his partner Marc Smerling’s 10 year investigation of a series of unsolved crimes, and was made with the cooperation of the man suspected of being at their center. “Over the decade in which we pursued the story through all its unexpected revelations, uncovering the truth became an obsession,” says Jarecki. “Now the audience can watch it unfold in front of them as it did for us.”

“We are incredibly pleased to bring Andrew to Princeton to talk about this project and his work as a storyteller,” notes Michael Cadden, chair of the Lewis Center. “Many people are not aware of the many film and television artists who have come out of Princeton, including Winnie Holzman ’76, creator of the series My So-Called Life; Ethan Coen ’79 of the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers; Alex Gansa ’84 and Howard Gordon ’84, the team behind Homeland and 24; producer and screenwriter David E. Kelley ’79 (The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal); and Jennie Snyder Urman, the creative force behind this year’s groundbreaking CW Network series Jane the Virgin. The Lewis Center takes pride in how Princeton has nurtured these artists and looks forward to growing in ways that will empower the next generation to use film, television and media yet to be invented to tell their stories.”

Following the screening of Episodes 1 and 2 of The Jinx, at approximately 8:15 p.m. Cadden will engage Jarecki in a discussion about the series and his work as a filmmaker. The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions.

Admission is free but advance ticket reservations are recommended and can be made online http://arts.princeton.edu.

music mug walsh

Irish tenor soloist James Walsh will perform at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton on Saturday, March 14 at 8 p.m. as part of VOICES Chorale’s “Irish Harp and Song” concert. Additional performers include the Jameson Sisters with Mary Malone and harpist Ellen Tepper. General admission is $25 per person at the door ($20 in advance). Children and students are $10 with proof of ID. To purchase tickets, call (609) 658-2636 or visit www.VoicesChorale.org.

William Hurd Scheide, the Princeton philanthropist, bibliophile, and musicologist who died at age 100 last November, has left his collection of some 2,500 rare books and manuscripts to his alma mater, Princeton University. The bequest, announced Monday and valued at nearly $300 million, represents the largest donation in the University’s history.

“Through Bill Scheide’s generosity, one of the greatest collections of rare books and manuscripts in the world today will have a permanent home here,” said University President Christopher L. Eisgruber in a statement on the University’s website. “It will stand as a defining collection for Firestone Library and Princeton University. I cannot imagine a more marvelous collection to serve as the heart of our library. We are grateful for Bill Scheide’s everlasting dedication to Princeton and his commitment to sharing his breathtaking collection with scholars and students for generations to come.”

The Scheide Library has been housed in the University’s Firestone Library since 1959, when Mr. Scheide moved his collection from his family home in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Among its treasures are the first six printed editions of the Bible, starting with the 1455 Gutenberg Bible, the earliest substantial European printed book; the original printing of the Declaration of Independence; Beethoven’s music sketchbook for 1815-16, the only outside Europe; Shakespeare’s first, second, third and fourth folios; significant autograph music manuscripts of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Wagner; a lengthy autographed speech by Abraham Lincoln from 1856 on the problems of slavery; and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s original letter and telegram copy books from the last weeks of the Civil War.

Collecting rare books was a family tradition for Mr. Scheide, whose father and grandfather were both passionate bibliophiles. His grandfather, William Taylor Scheide, began collecting at the age of 18, in 1865. Mr. Scheide’s father continued the collection and built a library at the Titusville home where the younger Mr. Scheide grew up.

Mr. Scheide’s father and grandfather were both oil company executives. His father was an 1896 graduate of Princeton, and Mr. Scheide was a member of the class of 1936. He began his own collection in 1954, by which time he was living in Princeton. The library from Titusville was moved to the University after Mr. Scheide’s mother died. A space was created at Firestone Library for the collection including furniture, statues, rugs, and leaded-glass windowpanes from the room in Titusville.

According to the University website, the Scheide Library will remain intact, and no book or document will be removed from it. The collection is gradually being digitized and made accessible through the website. As part of a major renovation currently underway at the library, the collection will be relocated. “Before his death, Bill reviewed the plans for the new space, which is once again intended to resemble his father’s library,” said Karin Trainer, Princeton University’s Librarian. “In designing the new space, the renovation architects relied on a vintage photograph they found of the Titusville library.”

At Mr. Scheide’s memorial service at Nassau Presbyterian Church last November, his daughter Louise Marshall recalled that there were books in every room of the family’s house on Library Place. Her father was generous in sharing his collection with others, Ms. Marshall said, a statement echoed by others familiar with his enthusiasm for books and manuscripts.

“He was a great collector,” said Ms. Trainer, just after Mr. Scheide’s death. “But what set him apart was that he was a great sharer. He collected with a scholarly passion, but he really wanted other people to be as enthusiastic as he was and understand why they were important. And that’s not true of all collectors.”

While the Scheide library was privately owned, it has always been accessible to patrons of Firestone through its Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Mr. Scheide continued to build the collection until shortly before his death.

“This collection is the fulfillment of the dreams of three generations of Scheide book men,” said Mr. Scheide’s widow, Judith McCartin Scheide. “Having it reside permanently at Princeton is a testament to the joy Bill took in sharing the books, papers, manuscripts, letters, music, and posters with others — those were some of his happiest times. He loved showing people — especially young people who had never seen anything like this before — the collection, letting them touch the books and experience what he called ‘the wow factor.’”

The proposed PennEast pipeline that will cross the Sourlands region into Mercer County will have lasting economic impact during and after its construction, according to a study released last week.

The study was commissioned by the PennEast Pipeline Company, a consortium of major East Coast natural gas providers (AGL Resources; NJR Pipeline Company; PSEG Power LLC; South Jersey Industries; Spectra Energy Partners; and UGI Energy Services); and carried out by Drexel University’s business school and Econsult Solutions, Inc.

At a media conference hosted by the company on Monday, February 9, it was suggested that the interstate pipeline would create 2,500 temporary construction jobs. Local labor will be used whenever possible and the study estimates “a total economic impact in both states from design and construction to be $1.62 billion, supporting over 12,160 jobs with $740 million in wages.”

The approximately 110-mile-long natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey would originate in northeastern Pennsylvania. The underground line would run through Hunterdon and into Mercer County. According to the study, it would deliver approximately 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to markets in eastern Pennsylvania, southeastern Pennsylvania, and New Jersey with natural gas produced from Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania.

“The long-term benefits from being near Marcellus Shale are significant, lower prices and consequent savings for all involved, and a ‘ripple’ effect on the economy,” said the study’s author Vibhas Madan, a professor of economics at Drexel. While Mr. Madan said it was beyond the scope of the present study to quantify that “ripple” effect, he said that there was a possibility of 90 full-time permanent jobs being created. “For each $10 million in increased disposable income, a total of $13.5 million in economic impact could be generated, supporting 90 jobs,” said the report.

“During the construction phase some $17 million would be generated in state personal income taxes,” said Stephen P. Mullen, president and principal of Econsult Solutions.

PennEast Pipeline Company representative Peter Terranova spoke of “long-term benefits to the region in lower energy costs, clean burning gas, supported by main energy providers in the region.” He described a “compelling” need for the PennEast Project that would result in lower energy costs to consumers by accessing gas available 100 miles away rather than 1,000 miles away. A second study showing benefits to the consumer would be forthcoming, he said. Results of that study should be released in a few weeks.

The primary beneficiary, said Mr. Terranova, would be gas-fired power generation which would then benefit electricity users in Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey by “displacing coal and reducing the cost of fuel to generating plants.”

“Even if residents do not use natural gas directly, the project is expected to lower gas prices and in turn lower the cost of electricity produced by plants that use gas as fuel,” the report states.

The PennEast pipeline proposal should not be confused with the existing interstate Transcontinental pipeline. “The two are not directly related,” explained Williams Company spokesperson Chris Stockton by phone Monday. “While Transco is an existing pipeline supplying half of the gas used in New Jersey, the PennEast pipeline is new; it would move gas from the shale developments in Pennsylvania into New Jersey where it would interconnect with Transco’s existing line.”

Across New Jersey, the study suggests a total potential estimated annual economic impact of $2.1 million, supporting 10 jobs and $800,000 in wages.

The study took 6 to 8 weeks to complete using 2013 figures from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. How much Drexel was paid for the analysis was not disclosed.

Findings Questioned

In response, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network issued a press release questioning the study’s findings: “Penn
East is attempting to defend and advance the economics of their pipeline project in a vacuum, simply talking about the economic costs, jobs, and values of PennEast without consideration of the potentially superior economic benefits and values of other clean energy strategies and without considering the economic costs the project will cause to communities,” said the release. “Even assuming their figures are true and accurate, they are talking about creating a very limited number of jobs for every $1 million invested.”

DRN suggests that money would be better spent on “clean energy strategies.”

Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum criticized the study’s failure to consider the “adverse impacts to recreation and ecotourism, the economic damage to agricultural crop production, harms to other businesses, the impact on market values and marketability of properties through which the project will cut, the costs to the community to respond to emergencies, to the increased storm-water runoff, pollution inputs, and other adverse impacts that could result from this project and be foisted upon the shoulders of local towns and residents, and they do not consider the health impacts to the residents who will find themselves living next to a compressor station emitting dangerous pollution impacting the health of local residents, family, and kids.”

According to Ms. van Rossum, the Drexel study “presents an incredibly skewed vision of the PennEast pipeline as one that brings with it positive economic benefits. It completely overlooks the considerable economic downsides and vastly exaggerates any alleged upsides.”

She also questions the value to regional consumers of the gas being conveyed. “Given that the PennEast pipeline connects into a system that would allow them to directly take their gas to the recently approved Cove Point export facility raises very serious questions about their heavy reliance on reduced energy costs for Pennsylvania and New Jersey residents — a benefit they characterize as among the most significant claimed economic benefits of the project,” said Ms. van Rossum.

The proposed pipeline has raised opposition from Princeton area residents and environmental groups such as The Sourlands Conservancy, which is strongly opposed to the new pipeline.

Fracking

The method by which the gas is harvested is highly controversial. Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), involves injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas. Opponents have described its environmental consequences as including contamination of ground water, depletion of fresh water, degradation of air quality, even the potential to trigger earthquakes.

State Senator Shirley Turner, (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) recently introduced a resolution against the pipeline’s construction and U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Colman (D-Mercer) has also expressed opposition.

The PennEast proposal is being reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will hold a public meeting on the Penn
East pipeline draft environmental impact statement at the West Trenton Ballroom, 40 West Upper Ferry Road in Ewing, Wednesday, February 25, at 6 p.m.

“We are still waiting for approval from state governments but if approved, the project should get underway in the spring/summer of 2017 and be operational in November of that year,” said PennEast spokesperson Patricia Kornick.

A copy of the full study can be viewed on the PennEast website http://penneastpipeline.com/economic-impact-analysis.

To share their concerns about the structure and format of the new state-mandated PARCC tests Princeton Public Schools students will take next month, members of the teachers’s union, Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) and the parent group Save Our Schools NJ (SOSNJ) will hold a “Take the PARCC” event on Monday, February 23, at 7 p.m. in the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center.

Participants should bring along their own wi-fi enabled laptops and tablets in order to check out the tests. The idea is to take a practice test and then ask questions and/or share concerns about it.

Third to 11th grade students will take the computerized assessments that have been developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College in Careers (PARCC) for states that have joined the Common Core curriculum. Common Core seeks to standardize student learning across the nation and the new tests will replace the former NJASK and HSPA standardized tests.

Parents in Princeton and in municipalities across the state have criticized the tests. Many want to know whether their children can “opt out.” To inform them, the district has formulated a “test refusal policy” and has developed a PARCC FAQ sheet, which can be viewed on the Princeton Public Schools page of the municipal website: www.princetonk12.org/Newsroom2/PARCC.

“Princeton parents vary in their level of concern. Some are very knowledgeable about the PARCC tests while others are just starting to learn about them,” said Princeton parent Julia Sass Rubin of SOSNJ. “Probably the greatest concern we hear from parents is the impact that high-stakes standardized testing is having on the classroom, by replacing valuable teaching time with test preparation and by narrowing the curriculum to the tested subjects.”

An associate professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Policy at Rutgers University, Ms. Rubin is a founding member of Save Our Schools NJ, along with Mayor Liz Lampert and the district’s Board of Education President Andrea Spalla. She has a seventh grader at John Witherspoon Middle School.

“We formed Save Our Schools NJ because we saw that public schools were under attack and wanted to inform and organize parents across New Jersey to stand up for our children and our public schools,” she said.

Since it was formed four and a half years ago, SOSNJ has grown to almost 25,000 members; it reaches out to between 30,000 to 150,000 people on Facebook and Twitter each week.

“My main concern with PARCC and other high-stakes standardized tests is the very destructive impact they have on public education, particularly in low-income communities, where the tests are used to forcibly close public schools and to fire teachers,” said Ms. Rubin. “We are very fortunate to have an extraordinary public school system in Princeton that we can’t take for granted. That excellence is a reflection of our administration, the quality of our teachers and the engagement of our families. It takes sustained effort and attention to maintain and defend, and that is something all of us must do.”

While SOSNJ recognizes that assessing a student’s skills and knowledge level is part of a high quality education, it opposes “the reliance on test scores to make critical educational decisions such as closing schools, firing or rewarding teachers, withholding a high-school diploma, or keeping a child from advancing to the next grade,” said Ms. Rubin (see Mailbox). It wants a reduction in the number of standardized tests children must take as well as elimination of the punitive stakes associated with those tests.

According to PREA President Joanne Ryan, teachers also have concerns, specifically: the impact the results of the tests will have on students, teachers, and districts; the number of hours spent preparing and practicing for the tests, taking away from classroom instruction; and the amount of money districts have spent, and are spending, to prepare for the PARCC testing.

“In mid-January PREA began working with Save Our Schools NJ as a community service to provide information to parents and community members,” said Ms. Ryan.

FAQs

According to the FAQ sheet, the district has been preparing students to take the computerized tests by exposing them to the online environment and sample tests prior to the test date and purchasing additional devices such as Chromebooks.

The FAQ sheet compares the PARCC assessment with other PPS ongoing formative assessments necessary to guide teachers and parents about students’ progress. It explains that the results of the tests will be used to identify students who need additional support such as intervention through the Accelerated Intervention Services (AIS) program, accommodations for Special Education and ESL students, and extended time for students with IEPs and 504s.

This first year, however, the assessment results are not expected to be received in time to be used in this way.

The information sheet states that schools are held accountable through the federal No Child Left Behind law to maintain at least 95 percent participation in state-mandated tests and that test results will impact School Performance Report and Progress Targets. Teachers are held accountable through the TEACHNJ law that connects teacher evaluation to student growth, as measured in part by the state assessment data.

It is thought that the PARCC testing may become a graduation requirement for high school in future years.

For more information on the PARCC, visit: www.parcconline.org and/or www.state.nj.us/education/sca/parcc. For more information on the Save Our Schools NJ position, visit: www.saveourschoolsnj.org/high-stakes-testing/.

Space is limited and registration is required for “Take the PARCC.” Pre-registration is available at: http://bit.ly/1AlbiUz. For more information, email: info@saveourschoolsnj.org, or visit www.saveourschoolsnj.org.

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The seventh annual Cupid’s Chase 5K sponsored by Community Options Inc. last Saturday drew over 4,000 runners across the nation and raised over $200,000 to support people with disabilities. Runners who set off from Princeton Shopping Center were among those competing in several New Jersey communities including New Brunswick, Glen Rock, Pennsauken, Morristown, and Seaside Heights, and 27 cities across the country.

February 11, 2015
“FAMILY IS EVERYTHING”: “Today, Roza and Max have a growing family — three sons, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren — that will forever honor their legacy, courage, and pride.” Harri Schwartz and Barbara Majeski are proud of the strength, fortitude, and resilience of Max and Roza Schwartz, who were Holocaust survivors, and Harri’s parents and Barbara’s grandparents.

“FAMILY IS EVERYTHING”: “Today, Roza and Max have a growing family — three sons, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren — that will forever honor their legacy, courage, and pride.” Harri Schwartz and Barbara Majeski are proud of the strength, fortitude, and resilience of Max and Roza Schwartz, who were Holocaust survivors, and Harri’s parents and Barbara’s grandparents.

“Honor the Past. Illuminate the Future.”

These words are the underlying theme of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) of Greater Mercer County’s annual fundraising gala, this year known as the “Illumination Ball.”

For almost 80 years, JFCS of Greater Mercer County has been a mainstay in supporting individuals and families by empowering people to care for themselves and others.

For those of any faith or affiliation who are suffering or in need, this non-profit organization offers support, hope, and comfort. In a recent year, its professional staff and scores of volunteers assisted more than 3000 individuals, including families, seniors and their adult children, and couples who needed help.

Services and programs include information, referral, therapy, support, education, and advocacy.

Displaced Person’s Camp

In conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the concentration camp operated by the Germans in Poland during World War II, the JFCS gala will honor Holocaust survivors, and in particular, those in Mercer County.

This is of special importance to Barbara Majeski, chairperson of the gala and also a member of the JFCS Board of Directors. Her grandparents, now deceased, were survivors of the Holocaust, and her father was born on a cattle train in which his mother was traveling to a displaced person’s camp in Germany.

“I feel it is so important to honor the victims and survivors and to share my family’s story,” explains Ms. Majeski. “My grandfather, Max Schwartz, born in Poland, was the eldest of seven. His parents and siblings died in Auschwitz and other camps. Max was the only survivor in his family.

“My grandmother, Roza Schwartz, also born in Poland, was the third of six children. She was the only survivor in her family. The details are unknown, but the family members are presumed to have died in the ghetto and camps.”

Ms. Majeski’s father, Harri Schwartz, continues the narrative. “During the war, when my mother was about 13, she came home from school one afternoon, and no one was home. Everyone was gone, and she never saw any of her family again. She was told she should leave Poland immediately, and somehow, with others, she made her way to Russia, where she was put to work in a slave labor camp.”

While in Russia, she met Max Schwartz, who, after being imprisoned, had been forced into the Russian Army. As Harri explains, “Max was fleeing the Nazis, running eastward from Poland, as the Germans invaded. He was arrested at the border of Russia, and was sentenced to 13 years ‘as a bar mitzvah!’ (Max always saw the irony in this punishment). When the Nazis began fighting the Russians, Max went from being a prisoner to being a soldier in the Russian army.”

HONOR AND REMEMBRANCE: Remembering and honoring the survivors of the Holocaust is the focus of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service’s upcoming gala, the “Illumination Ball”. Shown in this photo from 1964 are two Holocaust survivors: Max Schwartz (second from left) and his wife Roza, who are the grandparents of gala chair person, Barbara Majeski. Also in the photo are Max and Roza’s sons, Robert (left), Harri, and Jeffrey (foreground) on the occasion of Robert’s bar mitzvah.

HONOR AND REMEMBRANCE: Remembering and honoring the survivors of the Holocaust is the focus of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service’s upcoming gala, the “Illumination Ball”. Shown in this photo from 1964 are two Holocaust survivors: Max Schwartz (second from left) and his wife Roza, who are the grandparents of gala chair person, Barbara Majeski. Also in the photo are Max and Roza’s sons, Robert (left), Harri, and Jeffrey (foreground) on the occasion of Robert’s bar mitzvah.

Cattle Train

Eventually, Max and Roza were married. Harri Schwartz relates that after the war ended, his father “was working in a rice factory, and secretly helping to smuggle Jews out of Russia, to get them to occupied Germany. However, my mother was pregnant, and they were not taking pregnant women.

“But finally, it was decided that if my father stayed behind and continued to smuggle people out, she could leave. I was born on a cattle train somewhere between Germany and Poland in 1946. Then, they told my mother that if the baby cried, both she and the baby would be shot.”

Somehow, they made it safely to a displaced person’s camp in Germany, then occupied by the Americans, British, and Russians. “My mother left notes on bulletin boards all over the area, explaining where she was,” continues Mr. Schwartz, “When my father was able to get to Germany, he found the notes, and they were reunited.”

The family lived in the camp, and Max worked as a baker until 1951, when they were able to leave for the U.S., settling in New Jersey. Eventually, two more boys, Robert and Jeffrey, were born, and the family was close-knit and comfortable.

“Max and Roza were devoted to their three sons, and they were dedicated to raising them within Judaism,” says Ms. Majeski. “Their profound loss and their devastating tragedies from the war were not often shared. Instead, they preferred to channel their energy and love into their children. Harri, Jeffrey, and Robert were raised with the understanding that family was everything and everything was family. Roza and Max found comfort in the face of their losses by infusing their boys with love, pride, and laughter.”

“We had a happy family,” adds Mr. Schwartz. “My parents learned English, and when I was growing up, some of my friends would say ‘Your mother has a funny accent, but I didn’t even think about it. I thought everyone sounded like that.”

Hope for the Future

“We knew a lot of other refugee families, and they all became very successful. My father worked hard, with two bakery jobs. People, like us, who came to the U.S., had hope for the future. The whole point was that if you work hard, it can work for you. You can be successful. And, also, education was important. We all knew when we were in the first grade that we were expected to go to college.”

A year in the planning, the gala will be held in the Westin Hotel in Forrestal Vllage on February 28. It will include a video featuring interviews with Holocaust survivors, and the lighting of six candles, commemorating the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust, as well as a silent auction, dinner, and dancing.

Eighteen Mercer County area Holocaust survivors will be guests of honor, and 500 other guests are expected to attend, including Geoffrey Schwartz, who plays football for the New York Giants. A “Tribute Journal,” with stories from families remembering their relatives in the Holocaust, will be given to guests.

Both Ms. Majeski and Mr. Schwartz believe the gala’s focus on remembering the Holocaust victims and survivors is timely and necessary. The Holocaust must never be forgotten.

“It is important to remember the Holocaust so it will never happen again,” says Mr. Schwartz. “The Holocaust teaches us that it doesn’t take some thug or back room psychopath to do terrible things. Germany was a nation of cultured people, who were led by this maniac into horrible events.”

“I think it’s important to remember the Holocaust to honor those whose lives were not allowed to fulfill their potential,” points out Ms. Majeski. “It’s our responsibility to tell their story. The Holocaust survivors are relying on us not to allow their relatives to have died in vain.

“This is especially important to me. Knowing that I am the granddaughter of two Holocaust survivors, when everyone else in their family died, gives me a feeling of profound strength. I am a person of strength, and that came from them. It gives me a real sense of pride.

“When I was in sixth grade,” continues Ms. Majeski, “I mentioned the Holocaust to one of my friends. She said, ‘What’s the Holocaust?’ It had been part of my family’s heritage, and I knew about it, but I really didn’t know how to explain it to her.

“Today, I feel more than ever it is so important that it must never be forgotten.”

According to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. Audrey Dantzlerward, the Princeton University junior found dead in her dorm room last month, committed suicide by means of a drug overdose.

The 22-year-old was discovered in Edwards Hall on Monday, January 12. She was a native of Purcellville, Virginia. At the University, she was a member of the a cappella group, Wildcats, Princeton Women‘s Mentorship Program, Princeton Presbyterians, and the Edwards Collective, a residential community celebrating the humanities and creative arts.

 

A fire that started in a duplex at 36 Wilton Street on Wednesday, February 4, caused firefighters to evacuate the adjoining (occupied) home at 34 Wilton Street.

The blaze broke out just after 6:30 p.m., according to Princeton police.

Princeton Police and Princeton Fire Departments evacuated three residents of 34 Wilton Street. No one suffered any injuries related to the fire, said police, who also reported that no one was inside 36 Wilton Street at the time of the fire.

Firefighters forced entry into 36 Wilton Street and opened the second floor bedroom walls to extinguish the fire. They also opened the second floor bedroom walls of the 34 Wilton Street.

The investigation revealed that the roof of the duplex had recently been repaired, during which a blow torch was used in the area of the front porch roof. It is thought likely that the blow torch contributed to the cause of the fire, police said.

Subsequent to the investigation the duplex was determined to be uninhabitable, police said.

The Plainsboro Fire Department, Kingston Fire Department, Princeton University Plasma Lab and Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad assisted at the scene.

 

Local celebrations of the Chinese New Year are planned for the Princeton Senior Resource Center and Princeton Public Library. On Wednesday, February 4, PSRC will celebrate with students from the YingHua International School in Princeton. The library marks the day on Saturday, February 14.

More than one billion people in China and millions of others around the world will mark the first day of the Chinese New Year on February 18. This is the most important of Chinese holidays, kicking off a celebration that lasts for 15 days and culminates with the Lantern Festival. Each year is associated with one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac; in 2015 it is the sheep.

PSRC’s annual tradition will include a performance by the students and entertainment by adult members of the local Chinese community. Traditional refreshments will be served. The program is free and open to the general public. Call 609-924-7108 to reserve.

At the library, traditional Chinese dance, music, games and more are part of the celebration for people of all ages. The event is hosted by Princeton High School and the Princeton Chinese Language School. Shwu-Fen Lin, who teaches Mandarin at PHS, organizes the event. Students from several heritages and backgrounds will share many aspects of the Chinese culture as part of the celebration. The event will be held in the library’s Community Room.

All Princeton Public Library programs are free and open to the public. Call (609) 924-9529 or visit www.princetonlibrary.org for more information.

Each summer, nearly 4,000 inner-city children visit suburban, rural and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada through The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family Program. Volunteer host families in Central and Southern New Jersey open their hearts and homes to New York City children.

Fresh Air children are boys and girls, from six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for one or two weeks. Children who are re-invited by host families may continue with The Fresh Air Fund through age 18 and can enjoy extended trips. Families find hosting so rewarding that more than 65 percent of all Fresh Air children are invited to visit the same host families year after year. Through the eyes of Fresh Air children, families often rediscover the beauty of their own communities.

“I have so many favorite memories that it’s hard to pick: helping our Fresh Air child catch a fish for the first time, or how excited she was her first summer to see cows and horses, or finally being able to gaze up at the stars, because she said the glare of city lights doesn’t allow her to see them. It’s definitely the little things that mean the most,” says Meg, a Fresh Air host.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. For more information on hosting a Fresh Air child this summer, please contact Deborah Asirifi at (212) 897-8969 or visit The Fresh Air Fund online at www.freshair.org.

On Saturday, February 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., local yoga teacher Shannon Hurley will lead a by-donation yoga practice to benefit the Do It For the Love Foundation, at Princeton Center for Yoga & Health (PCYH), located at 88 Orchard Road in Skillman. Do It For the Love Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by musician Michael Franti that aims, through the healing power of music, to inspire joy, hope, and lasting celebratory memories in the face of severe illness and trauma.

The class will feature a flowing yoga practice appropriate for all levels, from beginner to advanced, as well as live music from Philadelphia area musicians Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner, who will be playing a chaturangui (Indian slide guitar), and Hoagy Wing, who will be playing a doumbek (Middle Eastern hand drum).

“Music has always played an important role in my life and it is a tremendous part of my yoga practice,” said Ms. Hurley, who has been teaching yoga at Princeton Center for Yoga & Health since 2011. “After hearing about Michael Franti’s foundation, I knew I had to do something to give and to educate people about the work this foundation does.”

Attending participants will receive a goody bag as a thank you for participating and donating. “Yoga Journal, Yogi Tea, GoMacro Macro Bars and (seed) body care have all generously donated to our goody bags,” said Hurley. “The musicians providing the live music during the class have donated their time. And there will be a chocolate meditation featuring delicious treats donated by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.”

Participants can give what they can to attend. Donations will be sent to the Do It For the Love Foundation. For more information about this event or to reserve a spot, visit PrincetonYoga.com or call (609) 924-7294.